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MotorcyclesWorld Superbike

WSBK Imola Race One: Rea Holds Off Haga

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Jonanthan Rea - Photo Credit: Castrol Honda

Jonanthan Rea - Photo Credit: Castrol Honda

Jonathan Rea
completed his comeback from injury with a superb victory in race one at Imola after resisting a determined challenge from Noriyuki Haga. The Castrol Honda rider missed three events after fracturing his arm and collarbone at Misano but there were no questions over his fitness this morning.

Rea was first into Tamburello after a lightning start but the Northern Irishman outbraked himself when he got there. As he swept back onto the racing line, Carlos Checa was forced slightly wide allowing Tom Sykes to sneak through into the lead.

Checa slotted in behind in second while Rea held third ahead of Eugene Laverty and Noriyuki Haga, with the top five stretching a lead over the rest of the field. Rea continued to look racy and dived past Checa into Rivazza but while he moved forwards, the championship leader fell back with Laverty and Haga demoting him to fifth.

Five laps in, Rea hit the front as he slipped past the Kawasaki of Sykes into Variante Bassa and Haga had clearly been watching him, as he produced a carbon copy of his move to take second on lap nine. Rea had opened up a 1.4s lead by this point though and the Japanese rider was forced to ride on the ragged edge just to catch the Castrol Honda.

Despite shadowing him for the second half of the race, Haga couldn't find a way past as Rea refused to give way. The Briton didn't put a wheel wrong under intense pressure and took the chequered flag just 0.111s ahead of Haga.

The battle for third became a straight fight between Sykes and Checa and the Yorkshireman cam agonizingly close, losing the position to the Spaniard on the final run through Acqua Minerale. Laverty couldn't keep in touch with the leading group but still held on to fifth, keeping the Effenbert-Liberty Ducati of Sylvain Guintoli behind him. Leon Haslam was putting Laverty under pressure early in the race but the BMW man crashed out at Tosa.

Jakub Smrz won a six-man battle for seventh which also included Marco Melandri. The Italian faces an uphill task to keep the title race alive in race two after finishing eighth in a mistake-filled opener.

Leon Camier only made one error but it was a pretty serious one, outbraking himself into Variante Bassa on lap one and running through the pitlane. The Briton made it back out on track but could only recover to 15th.


Race One Result (21 Laps):

Pos Rider Nat Bike Team Lap Time
1 Jonathan Rea GBR Honda Castrol Honda 38:03.396
2 Noriyuki Haga JAP Aprilia PATA Racing Team Aprilia +0.111
3 Carlos Checa SPA Ducati Althea Racing +9.449
4 Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Kawasaki Racing Team +9.792
5 Eugene Laverty IRL Yamaha Yamaha World Superbike Team +14.699
6 Sylvain Guintoli FRA Ducati Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing +16.820
7 Jakub Smrz CZE Ducati Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing +24.227
8 Marco Melandri ITA Yamaha Yamaha World Superbike Team +24.935
9 Ayrton Badovini ITA BMW BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team +25.224
10 Joan Lascorz SPA Kawasaki Kawasaki Racing Team +25.487
11 Mark Aitchison AUS Kawasaki Team Pedercini +26.148
12 Troy Corser AUS BMW BMW Motorrad Motorsport +26.444
13 Federico Sandi (WC) SPA Ducati Althea Racing +29.761
14 Alessandro Polita (WC) ITA Ducati Barni Racing Team S.N.C +30.083
15 Leon Camier GBR Aprilia Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team +34.862
16 Matteo Baiocco (WC) ITA Ducati Barni Racing Team +40.331
17 Ruben Xaus SPA Honda Castrol Honda +44.547
18 Roberto Rolfo ITA Kawasaki Team Pedercini +50.241
Not Classified
Leon Haslam GBR BMW BMW Motorrad Motorsport +13 Laps
Javier Fores SPA BMW BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team +15 Laps
Michel Fabrizio ITA Suzuki Team Suzuki Alstare +20 Laps
Maxime Berger FRA Ducati Supersonic Racing Team +20 Laps
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MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 and WorldSBK writer for The Checkered Flag. Contact: [email protected]
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